Jun 24, 2013

    I'm learning lessons from Game Of Thrones

    A FORMER colleague I met yesterday lamented that he has no time to watch television, now that he is dad to five-year-old triplets.

    "I've had to give up reality shows, with them running around," he said.

    To be frank, I think harried parents can kill two birds with a stone by working some strategic TV-watching into their schedules now and then. Or at least that's how I justify the hours I devote to Game Of Thrones (GOT), Mad Men and 30 Rock marathons after the kids are in bed.

    Here are some parenting lessons I've learnt from the latest seasons of my favourite series:

    1. Resist the urge to meddle

    GOT is full of meddling mothers. There's Cersei Lannister (played by the regal Lena Headey), the Queen Regent who is constantly up to political machinations to either protect herself or consolidate power for her tyrant son, King Joffrey (Jack Gleeson).

    There is also Catelyn Stark (Michelle Fairley), who undermines son Robb Stark's decisions by secretly freeing an important prisoner of war while Robb is fighting to claim the throne.

    The lesson here? Even if the highest leadership position your kid is aspiring to attain is as a scout Sixer, trying to give him a leg up - or sabotage him - is to render him weaker.

    If you must damage your child, however, do it early. See next point.

    2. Sometimes, psychological trauma can spur them on to greater heights

    " Mad Men's ad man extraordinaire Don Draper (Jon Hamm) may be an insecure, perverse teenager stuck in a man's body, but it is precisely this damaged sensitivity that has accounted for his most searing, insightful work in the business of creating desire in consumers.

    And for that, he has to thank his prostitute mother, who he spied servicing clients.

    Somewhat similar is 30 Rock network executive Jack Donaghy (Alec Baldwin).

    His emotional sparring with his disapproving matriarch Colleen (Elaine Stritch) comes to an end when she finally makes good on her decades-long threat to die.

    It is then that he realises that his mother's disapproval had been what spurred him to become the combative, determined and successful man he is today.

    3. Believe in your daughters as much as your sons

    Much as GOT is full of meddling mums, it is also full of powerful women who hold the keys to the kingdom.

    As the head of House Lannister, Lord Tywin's mistake might just be in using his daughter as a pawn in marriage to his allies, instead of allowing her to reach her full potential as a ruler and policymaker.

    Meanwhile, Liz Lemon in 30 Rock demonstrates that one should let one's little girls be as weird and nerdy as they want to be - so that they grow up to be weird, high-strung head writers of TV shows and Queens of Comedy like actress and series creator Tina Fey.

    4. Don't be afraid to be the good cop

    In Mad Men, after Don's former wife punishes their son Bobby for ruining the wallpaper, Don crosses his arms and cross-examines the boy: "Tell me exactly what your mother said."

    "I'm not allowed to watch TV for a week," came the reply.

    Jump cut to father and son sitting in a cinema, watching Planet Of The Apes.

    Getting your child off the hook on a technicality for some minor offences can help to reinforce: a) That you're a cool parent, and b) how to think smart and beat the system.